Review: 'RENT' at Little Radical Theatrics

Amanda Christine

  • OnStage Connecticut/New York Critic

YONKERS NY - With most musical theatre, spectacle is welcomed. However, while the razzle dazzle might be eye popping, the soul needs to come through as well. That's exactly where Little Radical Theatrics lives with their productions, especially with their tremendous production of RENT which closed last week. 

It's hard to build any type of full scale musical spectacle on a small stage with virtually no backstage or wing space. And the auditorium at the Grinton I. Will Library in Yonkers, is the last place you would think a production of, the controversial for its time, "RENT" would be a perfect setting for. But this company of actors were able to find the heart of this piece and for a couple of hours wonderfully embodied a story about living and loving freely. 

Clearly understanding the limitations of the space, direction Michael Mirra and music director Peter Capelle forgot about trying to make things look grand and instead made the piece much more palpable than I've seen it done in the past. "RENT" served raw. And it really worked. 

The cast here, while initially might not look like your typical "RENT" cast, took control of these characters and were each vocally suited for each role. This show has always been about the ensemble rather than any one part and the group here was fantastic. They included Chris Manetakis, Steven Skwarek, Ariana Morales, Markiss Robert, Juan Carlos Rodriguez, Jennifer Silverman, Stephanie Lourenco, Sam Yaggy, Sandra Benedetto, Mike Minecola, Ayanna Williams, Andrew Shepard, Matthew Bautista, Mikey Nunez and Erin McMahon.

This group is getting stronger and stronger since their recent inception. And while they understand their space is limited, they're starting to master the process of knowing what to do within that space. 

In a year when "RENT" is celebrating its 20th Anniversary, any production of it has to be done just right. And I'm happy to report that this company achieved that and more.